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Ray Conniff

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Attleboro MA, United States (1916 – 2002)

Joseph Raymond Conniff (November 6, 1916 - October 12, 2002) was an American musician. He was born in Attleboro, Massachusetts, and learned to play the trombone from his father. He studied music arranging from a course book.

After serving in the U.S. Army in World War II (where he worked under Walter Schumann), he was hired by Mitch Miller, then head of A & R at Columbia Records as their home arranger, and he worked with several artists, including Rosemary Clooney, Marty Robbins, Frankie Laine, Johnny Mathis, Guy Mitchell and Johnnie Ray. He wrote a top 10 arrangement for Don Cherry’s “Band of Gold” in 1955, a single that sold more than a million copies.

Amongst the hit singles he backed with his orchestra (and eventually with a male chorus) were “Yes Tonight Josephine” and “Just Walkin’ in the Rain” by Johnnie Ray; “Chances Are” and “It’s Not for Me to Say” by Johnny Mathis; “A White Sport Coat” and “The Hanging Tree” by Marty Robbins; “Up Above My Head,” a duet by Frankie Laine and Johnnie Ray, and “Pet Me, Poppa” by Rosemary Clooney. He also backed up the albums “Tony” by Tony Bennett, “Blue Swing” by Eileen Rodgers, “Swingin’ for Two” by Don Cherry. and half the tracks of “The Big Beat” by Johnnie Ray.

In these early years he also produced some similar sounding records for Columbia’s Epic label under the name of Jay Raye (which stands for “Joseph Raymond”) amongst them a backing album and singles with Somethin’ Smith & The Redheads, an American male vocal group.

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